Ajman hotels busier than Dubai as staycationers head north

Ajman hotels busier than Dubai as staycationers head north
Ajman raced ahead with occupancy of 74.8 percent. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 28 April 2021

Ajman hotels busier than Dubai as staycationers head north

Ajman hotels busier than Dubai as staycationers head north
  • The UAE's northern emirates recorded some of the best hotel occupancy across the entire region last month

DUBAI: Ajman hotels were busier than Dubai in the first quarter as staycationers escaped the city and headed north.

New data from hospitality research group STR, reveals that the UAE's northern emirates recorded some of the best hotel occupancy across the entire region last month.

Dubai occupancy for the first quarter of 2021 was 61.7 percent while Ajman raced ahead with occupancy of 74.8 percent, the company told Arab News.

The northern emirates benefited as popular getaways for staycationers, STR said.
Overall, the region’s occupancy came in at 54 percent for March. That was a 52.4 percent increase in comparison with March 2020, but more importantly, a 26 percent decrease from the pre-pandemic March 2019, STR said. Because year-over-year comparisons have become skewed due to the earliest pandemic impact last year, STR uses 2019 as the recovery benchmark.
At the country level, Qatar posted the highest absolute occupancy (71.2 percent) and came closest to the 2019 comparable (-0.4 percent). That means that Qatar was less than a percentage point away from a full occupancy recovery if looking only at that March data. The UAE (62 percent) ranked second in absolute occupancy, sitting 23.9 percent below the 2019 benchmark. On the other side of the spectrum, Jordan was the lowest occupancy performer in both absolute terms (21.3 percent) comparison with March 2019 (-65 percent).


Oil climbs on drop in US oil stockpiles, solid demand outlook

Oil climbs on drop in US oil stockpiles, solid demand outlook
Updated 20 min 8 sec ago

Oil climbs on drop in US oil stockpiles, solid demand outlook

Oil climbs on drop in US oil stockpiles, solid demand outlook
  • US crude oil stocks fell by 2.5 million barrels in the week to May 7

MELBOURNE: Oil prices rose on Wednesday, extending overnight gains, after industry data showed a drop in US crude inventories, which reinforced OPEC’s robust demand outlook, and as the shutdown of the biggest US fuel pipeline headed into a sixth day.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose 21 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $65.49 a barrel at 0013 GMT, adding to a 36 cent rise on Tuesday.
Brent crude futures climbed 15 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $68.70 a barrel, adding to a 23 cent gain on Tuesday.
“Crude oil gained as investors continue to bet on a bright outlook for demand. A weak US dollar also lent support,” ANZ Research said in a note.
Data from the American Petroleum Institute industry group showed US crude oil stocks fell by 2.5 million barrels in the week to May 7, according to two market sources.
The drop was slightly less than expected. Eight analysts polled by Reuters had estimated, on average, that crude stocks fell by 2.8 million barrels.
The drawdown came before the Colonial Pipeline was hit by a cyberattack last Friday which forced the pipeline, which transports more than 2.5 million barrels a day of fuel, to shut down. The operator said it hopes to restart a large portion of the network by the end of the week.
In the meantime, the market remained on edge, as gasoline stations from Florida to Virginia began running out of fuel on Tuesday as drivers rushed to top up their tanks and pump prices rocketed.
US unleaded gasoline prices hit an average $2.99 a gallon, the highest since November 2014, the American Automobile Association said.
Oil prices were also supported by the latest outlook from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which stuck to a forecast for a strong recovery in world oil demand in 2021 with growth in China and the United States outweighing the impact of the coronavirus crisis in India.
OPEC said it expects demand to rise by 5.95 million bpd this year, unchanged from its forecast last month. However, it cut its demand outlook for the second quarter by 300,000 bpd due to soaring COVID-19 infections in India.
“India is currently facing severe COVID-19-related challenges and will therefore face a negative impact on its recovery in the second quarter, but it is expected to continue improving its momentum again in the second half of 2021,” OPEC said in its monthly report.


American business group warns China boycotts spooking investors

American business group warns China boycotts spooking investors
Updated 12 May 2021

American business group warns China boycotts spooking investors

American business group warns China boycotts spooking investors
  • Brands including Swedish retailer H&M, Adidas and Nike have been targeted by demands online for consumer boycotts

BEIJING: An American business group warned Tuesday that government-instigated consumer boycotts of foreign shoe, clothing and other brands in China are making companies less willing to invest.

That is adding to anxiety over Beijing’s plan for a list of “unreliable entities” that might be punished for actions deemed to run counter to Chinese interests, the American Chamber of Commerce in China said in an annual report on business conditions.

The report reflects growing unease among American and other foreign companies about the impact of economic and strategic tensions between Beijing and their home countries.

Brands including Swedish retailer H&M, Adidas and Nike have been targeted by demands online for consumer boycotts. That came after state media criticized them for expressing concern about reports of possible forced labor by ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region of China’s northwest.

FASTFACT

The report reflects growing unease among American and other foreign companies about the impact of economic and strategic tensions between Beijing and their home countries.

The American Chamber said 78 percent of companies that responded to its survey cited “rising tensions” between Beijing and Washington as their top concern.

Beijing announced plans for its “unreliable entities” list in 2019 after then-President Donald Trump blocked access to US components and technology for Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies Ltd. Officials have yet to say which companies might be on the list or disclose the criteria for being included.

Concern about the list is “aggravated by consumer boycotts instigated by official organizations and through Chinese media,” the Chamber said. It said one in five companies expressed concern, while 7 percent said it was decreasing their willingness to invest.

Despite that, half the companies surveyed said China’s investment environment is improving, while 38 percent said it stayed the same. The Chamber said only 12 percent reported conditions had deteriorated, the lowest level since 2015.

The Chamber noted that 27 percent of information and computer technology companies said investment conditions were deteriorating, the highest level of any industry. That finding comes at a time when the ruling Communist Party is using subsidies, market barriers and informal pressure on companies to try to develop its own high-tech industries.

 


Rising consumer appetite for digital payments in Saudi Arabia

Rising consumer appetite for digital payments in Saudi Arabia
Updated 12 May 2021

Rising consumer appetite for digital payments in Saudi Arabia

Rising consumer appetite for digital payments in Saudi Arabia
  • The survey found that 94 percent of respondents are comfortable with digital payment systems such as biometrics, digital wallets and QR codes

RIYADH: Statistics released this week have highlighted the massive surge in the uptake of digital payments in the Kingdom, especially in light of pandemic restrictions on shopping and travel.

According to monthly data issued by the Saudi Central Bank, there were 25.84 million online sales transactions through the Mada system in March. The total value of sales during the month was SR 5.31 billion ($1.4 billion), a year-on-year increase of 196 percent.

The Small and Medium Enterprises General Authority (Monshaat) also reported that the e-commerce sector received an investment of around SR 250 million during the first quarter of 2021, according to an article by the Al-Eqtisadiah newspaper.

With shoppers having few alternatives when it comes to getting basic necessities, it is no surprise that the first-ever Mastercard New Payments Index for the Kingdom found widespread acceptance of digital payments among Saudi consumers.

The survey found that 94 percent of respondents are comfortable with digital payment systems such as biometrics, digital wallets and QR codes.

A year into the pandemic, research from Mastercard showed that the adoption of new payment technologies is rising and consumer appetite for it growing fast.

According to the index, 68 percent of respondents tried a new payment method they would not have tried under normal circumstances.

In addition, 92 percent of Saudi consumers said they have access to more ways to pay compared to this time last year.

Three-quarters of respondents said digital payment methods help them save money, while the same amount also said they are more loyal to retailers who offer multiple payment options. Sixty-nine percent of Saudi consumers said using biometrics to verify purchases made them feel safer.

“More than ever, consumers in Saudi Arabia are adapting and embracing payment innovations. Businesses, both big and small, must respond to this evolving trend. We are closely working with our partners and retailers to deliver secure and diverse payment technologies for the omnichannel generation,” J.K Khalil, country manager, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the Levant at Mastercard, said in a press statement.


Latest reforms will boost KSA real estate, says analyst

Latest reforms will boost KSA real estate, says analyst
Updated 12 May 2021

Latest reforms will boost KSA real estate, says analyst

Latest reforms will boost KSA real estate, says analyst
  • The support for the housing sector will help the government achieve one of its core Vision 2030 goals to reach 70 percent homeownership by the end of the decade

RIYADH: The Saudi government’s recent announcements in the real estate sector, including providing more than 53,000 new homes in Riyadh and relaxing the ban on ownership by non-Saudis in Makkah and Madinah, will help to overhaul the sector and reach the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 home ownerships goals, according to an industry figure.

“The announcement of the allocation of 20 million square meters of land in the northern Riyadh suburb of Al-Jawan, effectively trebling the size of this neighborhood, to housing developments will certainly aid the government’s home ownership targets,” Faisal Durrani, head of Middle East research at real estate consultancy firm Knight Frank, told Arab News.

He added that the announcement by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman “follows the December announcement by Roshn to develop 30,000 residential units in Riyadh — 4,000 in the first phase — as part of a national program to deliver 1 million new homes by 2030.”

The move is also in line with the city’s aim to become one of the 10 largest economic cities in the world and to increase its population from 15 to 20 million by 2030.

The support for the housing sector will also help the government achieve one of its core Vision 2030 goals to reach 70 percent homeownership by the end of the decade, up from 47 percent four years ago and around 60 percent at present.

The decision late last week to allow companies listed on the Saudi Stock Exchange to own properties in Makkah and Madinah was also seen as a major move by the government to encourage foreign investment and to permit non-Saudi investor ownership in the prime markets.

“Opening ownership in Makkah and Madinah to international companies is a clear indication of the direction of travel of the Saudi economy and is perfectly aligned with Vision 2030,” Durrani said, adding: “The landmark change is likely to pave the way for a boost in demand for commercial real estate over the medium to long-term, as businesses are drawn to the emerging economic opportunities.”

Such moves by the government are likely to be a catalyst for a post-pandemic rebound in the Kingdom’s real estate sector, which are already up 25 percent year-on-year (Y-o-Y) in Riyadh during the first quarter of this year, and 34 percent Y-o-Y in Jeddah and 11 percent Y-o-Y in the Dammam Metropolitan Area.


Airbus tells suppliers to plan for 18% output hike in 2022

Airbus tells suppliers to plan for 18% output hike in 2022
Updated 12 May 2021

Airbus tells suppliers to plan for 18% output hike in 2022

Airbus tells suppliers to plan for 18% output hike in 2022
  • The tentative new goal would lift output of the workhorse domestic and medium-haul jet

PARIS: Europe’s Airbus is asking suppliers to get ready for a further 18 percent increase in A320-family jet output during 2022, on top of existing targets for this year, as airlines ready for a partial return to normal travel, industry sources said.

The tentative new goal would lift output of the workhorse domestic and medium-haul jet, which competes with Boeing’s partially grounded 737 MAX, to 53 a month, they told Reuters.

The number being floated for end-2022 remains informal and Airbus has only committed so far to raising output in two steps to 45 a month by end-2021 from 40 now.

But it is the first concrete indication of the shape of recovery Airbus hopes to achieve for its main single-aisle jets next year as it restores coffers depleted by the pandemic.

“We do not comment on speculation regarding the longer-term trajectory,” a company spokesman said.

“We see the market recovering to pre-COVID levels in the 2023-2025 time frame, with single-aisle recovering first,” he said, adding, “uncertainties remain.”

Airbus, which had been enjoying record jet demand before the virus triggered widespread travel bans, cut output of its best-selling model by a third to 40 a month around a year ago.

In January, it announced plans to increase output to 43 a month in the third quarter and 45 a month in the fourth.

CEO Guillaume Faury said last month Airbus aimed for a “steep ramp-up” in 2022 and 2023, without elaborating.

Some suppliers have warned of bumps ahead in restoring pre-pandemic production as smaller parts makers struggle with cash shortages. Airbus must also address industrial snags that held up dozens of deliveries even before COVID-19, they say.

Output of larger wide-bodied jets remains depressed by travel restrictions and is not expected to recover soon.